Irish Coffee: Ray Allen’s ‘holy land’
|01.18.11 at 11:14 am ET|
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It’s what all professional shooters strive for — 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line — but it’s eluded Allen throughout his previous 14 seasons in the league.
“I looked at my percentages, and the one thing I can’t control is how many points I score, but I can control how efficient I am,” said Allen after his two late 3-pointers helped bury the Magic on Monday night. “The holy land of shooting is 50, 40 and 90. That’s been something I’ve aimed for my whole career.”
Currently, Allen is shooting career highs of 51.7 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from 3-point land, but his free-throw shooting sits at 88.3 percent. Imagine that, the NBA’s No. 5 free-throw shooter of all-time actually needs to improve his free-throw shooting. It’s nowhere near out of the realm of possibility, as Allen has shot 90 percent from the charity stripe nine times in his career, including the previous five seasons.
To qualify for the 50-40-90 club, a player must make at least 300 field goals, 55 3-pointers and 125 free throws. Only five players in the history of the league have qualified: Steve Nash (four times), Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller. Interestingly enough, both Allen and Paul Pierce (51.4 FG%, 40.6 3P% & 86.1 FT&) could join that club by the end of the season.
Of course, Allen is also chasing Miller’s all-time 3-point record. He’s just 28 away from surpassing the retired Pacer’s 2,560 career 3-pointers. Miller was part of the TNT crew that broadcasted Monday night’s Celtics game at TD Garden, and Allen admitted he may have given him a look after one of his three treys on the night. The two began a friendship when Allen tried to recruit Miller to come out of retirement and play for the Celtics in 2008.
“He always has great things to say,” said Allen of Miller. “He’s been such a great mentor. He’s never been envious or showed animosity towards me because I’m potentially going to break his record. It’s a great lesson for me to learn as a young guy compared to him, and me passing along the things I know to the young guys who come after me.”
Because of the “$3 for 3s” program that Allen’s mother, Flora, started on behalf of her son, Allen has been able to pay particular attention to his chase for the record. The initiative asks people to pledge $3 to the Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund for every 3-point shot he makes this season. His stepfather is always reminding him, too, because he’s counting down to the record every morning on his chalkboard at Cheshire High School.
It’s fun for Allen to discuss with his family and friends off the court, but not on the court with his teammates.
“Once we get in the locker room, it’s all business,” said Allen. “I don’t want to be that guy who’s running around the court trying to shoot a shoot a 3-pointer all day long. I don’t want to be thirsty from behind the 3-point line, so I just make sure I play the game that I’ve always played.”
Only slightly more efficiently.
KEVIN GARNETT: CELTICS CAN LEARN FROM PATRIOTS
On his blog for his Chinese shoe sponsor, Anta, Kevin Garnett explained that the entire Celtics team went to the Patriots loss to the Jets, and the C’s can learn a lot from the No. 1 seed getting bumped from the playoffs:
“Went as a team to the Patriots game. They lost and the stadium was in shock. Crazy that they were supposed to be the best team and now they are out. That is why I want our guys to see that we can’t take anything for granted and we need to play as if we could be eliminated.”
Garnett also wrote about finally having all five starters, including Kendrick Perkins, back on the practice court, while at the same time dealing with the uncertainty of the O’Neal “brothers” (Shaquille O’Neal slipped on some ice and nearly didn’t play against the Magic, and Jermaine O’Neal is facing the possibility of knee surgery):
“We had the starting five together at practice for the first time since Game 6 of the finals. The timing was a little off, but we definitely gave it to the second unit. Perk was out there, which was awesome. I was pumped for him. He was flying up and down the court and without a sub, he did well. Diesel slipped on some ice, and J.O. is trying to figure out what he can and can’t do.”
Count Allen among the Celtics excited for the looming returns of Perkins and Delonte West to the lineup: “We still have some guys that are really going to contribute down the stretch — that our going to help us win games that are legitimate players in this league and know how to play basketball and play in playoff situations.”
KG’S RETURN: GREEN STREET’S GOT YOU COVERED
Obviously, there was plenty of discussion of Garnett’s return to the Celtics after a nine-game absence. The glaring difference between the Celtics and Magic, as the Orlando Sentinel noted, Garnett was the main topic of Monday night’s postgame reaction. And Green Street had you covered the whole way:
- Paul Flanerry’s Three-Pointer: “There was so much brilliance on display in Garnett’s return, but by far the biggest thing to come out of Monday’s game was that he is in fact healthy.”
- Garnett (courtesy of Mike Petraglia): “These two weeks have been dark days for me, trying to keep my morale up, be around the guys, travel. But being hurt is not one of my things I like to be a part of. I hate it. I don’t deal with it well.”
- Dwight Howard on Superman rival Shaq: “He won the victory tonight, but we will win the war.”
- Fast Break: Obviously, any time a former Defensive Player of the Year returns to the lineup, it’s a bonus. When that guy also averages 15 points a night, it’s basketball’s version of a double rainbow.
During halftime of TNT’s broadcast of the Celtics-Magic game, Charles Barkley made this claim:
“Derrick Rose is the new pest point guard in the NBA,” Barkley said. “Chris Paul is No. 3, I hate to say it, Deron Williams I love you, but Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the NBA right now.”
Just for fun, let’s take a look at the numbers for those three guys alongside Rajon Rondo (leading statistics in bold), considering for a moment that Rondo is asked to score less with four Hall-of-Fame weapons in his arsenal:
- Chris Paul: 16.2 points, 9.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 48.4 FG%, 45.2 3-point FG% and 90.1 FT%.
- Deron Williams: 22.1 points, 9.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 3.3 turnovers, 46.3 FG%, 38.2 3-point FG% and 85.3 FT%.
- Rajon Rondo: 10.8 points, 13.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 3.9 turnovers, 52.8 FG%, 30.4 3-point FG% and 46.0 FT%.
- Derrick Rose: 24.4 points, 8.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1. 0 steals, 3.5 turnovers, 45.2 FG%, 37.6 3-point FG% and 81.0 FT%.
Ranking these four guys 1-through-4 in these nine statistical categories, here’s their aggregate scores (with the lowest being the best): 1. Paul (14), 2. Williams (20), 3. Rondo (22) and 4. Rose (23).
GLEN DAVIS: DWIGHT HOWARD IS ‘A FINESSE GUY’
In the midst of all the talk about Garnett’s comeback, ESPN.com covered Glen Davis‘ return to the second unit. Buried in the story is the fact that Big Baby had this to say about Howard, who he guarded for the final 5:22 of Monday night’s victory against the Magic:
“He’s a great player, but he’s not my hardest [player to defend]. I think it’s easy to defend him. He’s a finesse guy. It’s different if you didn’t know which way he was going. If he’s just going one way or making one move, it’s hard to power over a big dude, like a big strong guy, just as strong as him.”
Howard’s 33 points and 13 rebounds against the Celtics — as well as his imposing 6-foot-11 frame — say otherwise.